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Cracks in the European Egg Market Deepen as the Bird Flu, Inflation Rage On
Confronted with what some have labeled a “winter of discontent” amid soaring inflation, consumers throughout the European Union appear to be leaning more heavily on eggs as a low-cost source of protein. But while eggs by nature are more affordable than competing proteins, part of their recent affordability is somewhat artificial in nature—not reflective of current market conditions but rather the result of retailers’ unwillingness to pay farmers a sustainable price for their eggs—or to pass those prices on to consumers.
The situation is much the same in the UK. According to Farming UK, the British Free Range Egg Producers Association advised retailers last November and again this February that its members could not continue to produce eggs at a loss and requested a 40p/dozen increase. They warned that there would be a scarcity of eggs going into the Christmas period if the situation was not addressed, but their pleas were largely disregarded. And now, the very shortages they warned of have come to pass. Faced with limited supplies, and in some cases, empty shelves, some of the UK’s largest retailers—Tesco, Lidl and Asda among them—are restricting customers to 2-3 boxes of eggs per shopper, a move that is expected to last beyond Christmas.